Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 5: “Kissed by Fire” Recap

by Devin Kirby

 

Loyalty is obviously one of the most important things in the world of Game of Thrones. In fact, it’s probably the most important thing. Whom you know, whom you like, whom you fight for—these are the defining characteristics of the highborn men and women of Westeros. And in this episode, we get to see what happens when these loyalties are tested. “Kissed by Fire” is about breaking oaths, changing paths, and altering destiny—sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, and sometimes a little in between. Personally, I can’t get enough of this episode. The last couple of episodes of this season have been remarkable, and episode 5 keeps up the trend with another taunting and dramatic roller coaster ride.

 

BEYOND THE WALL

Jon Snow needs to get laid

Thank. God. For probably seven episodes now, Jon Snow has had an unbearably awkward sexual tension between himself and the Wildling Ygritte (whose red hair gives this episode its title). Jon Snow has never had sex before—in season 1 he recounts to Sam Tarly his closest encounter, ironically with the also-redheaded Ros. Snow, the bastard child of Ned Stark and some lady he banged during Robert Baratheon’s rebellion, couldn’t bring himself to potentially make another bastard child with a whore, and opted out of losing his virginity to the North’s favorite hooker (maybe a wiser choice than Snow realizes). After that, he swore off women in his vows to the Night’s Watch. So, the ruggedly handsome Jon Snow has never, to this point, gotten down to business with a lady. This might explain his usually uptight behavior and perpetually sad-frustrated demeanor.

 

But that’s a moot point now, because Jon Snow got laid.

 

Before he gets down and dirty, Snow gets questioned by Tormund Giantsbane (probably top 5 names ever) and Orell the Wildling sorcerer (I refuse to use the term warg because Lord of the Rings already took it, sorry George). They want to know which of the nineteen castles along the Wall are manned, and how many soldiers are left in Castle Black, the main Night’s Watch stronghold. They think Snow is lying to them, and Ygritte vouches for him (remember that Snow is still unaware of the massive, new schism in the Night’s Watch that happened in the last episode, and his numbers are probably off). Citing this as the most recent of a long list of times she’s stood up for Snow, Ygritte demands that he break his vows and do her. I like the chemistry between Ygritte and Snow—they’re such polar opposites that it’s fun to see who gets the upper hand in a given situation. Like sex, for example. Ygritte assumes Jon, as a virgin, knows nothing—until he goes down on her (begging the question of how clean a Wilding girl’s parts can be—I didn’t see any hint of ladies shaving in the South, let alone beyond the Wall).

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But who cares if Jon Snow gets laid? Had to happen eventually. But look at the position Snow’s in now: he’s proven himself to the Wildlings, and already has gained the respect of Tormund Giantsbane and the big dog, Mance Rayder. Jon’s also a guy who’s a natural leader—he was getting groomed to be the next Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch (and may be be the de facto one now since Jeor is dead?). And, as a Southerner, his information and expertise is going to make him a key part of Wildling politics. They are a democratic people, and if he can continue impressing them…I guess we’ll have to wait and see. But goddamn if Ygritte and Jon wouldn’t make the best royal couple on the show.

 

AT DRAGONSTONE

Stannis is the least fun Baratheon

Remember Davos Seaworth? The really awesome and super likable sidekick to Stannis Baratheon? Yeah, well he’s in a dungeon now, on Stannis’s orders—a moment that may have been the straw to break the proverbial camel’s back. In this episode, Stannis returns to his despondent wife Selyse in some woe-begotten corner of his fortress at Dragonstone to confess his sins. Stannis was unfaithful to Selyse, having previously had sex with the ever-creepy Red Woman Melisandre. Selyse is a really interesting character: lonely and insecure, she fanatically clings to the Lord of Light as her religious and personal savior. She and Stannis are stuck in a loveless marriage, and on top of that she is seemingly incapable of having children, having given birth to three stillborn sons that she keeps floating in jars of goo in her bedroom (morbid much?). Her and Stannis’s only spawn is a little girl Shireen, whose face is all messed up from some disease or something. They keep her in what is basically a dungeon cell, and neither Stannis nor Selyse seem to give any mind to whether she lives or dies. One review I read about this episode (accurately) noted that the Baratheon’s are still probably the most functional family in Westeros. When Stannis tells Selyse about his affair with Melisandre, she calmly replies that Melisandre had already told her and that was 100% cool. Why this is a problem for Stannis is beyond me (Melisandre has her moments of being pretty hot, no pun intended), but it is. And I get why—Stannis is in a huge crisis of faith. He’s just imprisoned his best friend, sent thousands of his men to die at the Battle of Blackwater Bay, is heirless, loveless, and rapidly losing faith in the Lord of Light. He clearly wants someone to guide him, and beyond that, to guide him without talking about some man in the sky for a goddamn second. I’m intrigued as to which way Stannis will go: at the end of season 2, Stannis was in a similar emotional state, but Melisandre was able to show him the light at the end of the tunnel (if you thought that pun was mildly amusing, it was intentional. If not, it wasn’t…). Or maybe Stannis will continue to be disillusioned with the whole game, like another group of anarchistic Lord of Light followers somewhere…

 

Also, Shireen starts teaching Davos how to read while he’s in jail. Maybe irrelevant, but the way this series goes, it will probably end up being a super important.

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IN THE RIVERLANDS

Arya Stark is my favorite character on this show

As the Lord of Light is the only being that can judge man, the impromptu trial of Sandor “the Hound” Clegane ends up a trial by combat between the Hound and renegade ex-Stark bannerman Beric Dondarrion. Oh alright, game blouses. The Hound is a massive guy and a strong fighter. But, like anybody, he has his bugaboos – namely, fire. After half his face got melted when his brother Gregor “the Mountain” shoved his face into a fire (their parents probably sucked), Sandor is petrified of fire—his sudden departure from King’s Landing started when he saw a guy on fire during the Battle at Blackwater Bay. And a funny little thing followers of the Lord of Light do—they light their swords on fire when they fight. Obviously, this scares the crap out of the Hound. After a really awesomely choreographed fight, Beric’s skill is no match for Sandor’s raw power (watch the fighting styles of the two of them in this sequence—their personalities come through their swordplay, which is kind of nerdtastic) and the Hound ends up with his sword about two feet in Beric’s shoulder. He dies, and Thoros immediately runs to him and starts praying.

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Of course, this scene isn’t about Sandor, Thoros, or even Beric. It’s about Arya. Arya has her most visceral moment in the show so far, where, after begging for Sandor’s death, she grabs a dagger and lunges at him. Gendry stops Arya from attacking the Hound, and Arya ends up as a screaming hot mess on the floor. Arya, usually so controlled and mature, has a shocking meltdown that really puts her mindset into perspective: her father had been beheaded in front of her according to the laws of the land, and no one of her most hated enemies is getting a full pardon for his crimes on a bogus religious ritual. I think the fact that Arya is a kid makes her the most emotionally impactful character—looking at what she’s been through, and especially how well she’s carried herself throughout, it’s tough watching her get broken down like this.

 

Oh, and Beric Dondarrion returns from the dead? Yeah, that happens. Not going to lie, I was blown away the first time I saw this episode—it’s a crazy moment—but the more I watched it, the less I liked it. I think it happened too quickly—a couple of Hail Marys from Thoros and Beric is all good. No way. Make it awesome—throw Beric in a fire or something and have some cool effect where it seals his wound up. Boom. Epic resurrection. Regardless, this is still an awesome turn of events.

 

Later, by the fire, Arya talks to Thoros and Beric. Thoros tells her that she’ll be ransomed to her brother at Riverrun and returned promptly, a process that Beric wanted to discard entirely out of respect to his old lord Ned Stark, whom he did and apparently still does admire a great deal. Thoros feels bad about it too—Arya has definitely impressed him—but he says the Brotherhood Without Banners needs the gold. I didn’t really know what to think of Thoros when he came into the show, but I really like that he’s evolved into this kind of hoodrat Obi-Wan Kenobi role. They then explain to Arya that Beric has died and been revived 6 times, and that every time he comes back he’s a little less of a full person. It’s a tough gig, but Arya chimes in that it’s still better than the deal poor old dad got. Her little weeping face when she’s talking about trying to resurrect Ned killed me. But if this is a common thing for the followers of the Lord of Light, then will Stannis Baratheon use it? And how?

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Gendry also tells Arya he’s going to stay with the Brotherhood and smith, and there’s this really weird sexual tense moment between the two of them even though Gendry’s like 17 and Arya is maybe 13? Uh. And wasn’t he supposed to be a bastard of Robert Baratheon’s? Will Gendry become the leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners? I think people sleep on the importance of the Brotherhood: properly funded and correctly aligned, the Brotherhood could be a huge tool for whatever side talks them into doing some dirty work for them. They do need the gold, after all.

 

When are Jaime and Brienne going to team up?

Finally back to Harrenhal (back to worse than square one for Jaime, as he is back where he started and minus a hand), Brienne is freed and taken under the control of Lord Bolton, who scolds Locke for his bad treatment of his captives. Jaime is sent to Qyburn, a maester whose title was stripped from him for medical experimentation. He tries some basic treatment on Jaime, who seems to have taken Brienne’s advice to nut up and stop whining to heart—he refuses anesthetics during his operation, choosing instead to defy the whole Bolton camp and scream. It’s tough not to like Jaime, as big of a turd of a human as he is. Also, something in me sees no hand and sees crazy doctor and can only think that JAIME LANNISTER IS GOING TO GET A CRAZY ROBOT HAND. Luke Skywalker did it. Hell, Merle Dixon from AMC’s The Walking Dead did it. Why not Jaime Lannister?

 

After this, he takes a bath in the same tub with Brienne, who responds with a hilariously adolescent awkwardness. I have a feeling people are still waiting for these two to fall in love—not going to happen. They might team up and kill a bunch of dudes, sure, but Jaime’s heart is already taken by his sister Cersei, for better or for worse. Then, the magic happens.

 

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has been one of the breakout stars of this series, along with Lena Headley (Cersei) and Peter Dinklage (Tyrion), and this one scene is probably the best piece of acting I’ve seen not only from him, but from anybody in this series (maybe tied with Varys’s from last week). Jaime tells Brienne of his past as Kingsguard to the Mad King Aerys Targaryen, the king that Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon rebelled against before Robert took the throne. The Mad King was obsessed with wildfire, the weird concoction that Tyrion used in the Battle of Blackwater Bay against Stannis. He had caches of it stored across King’s Landing, as a contingency plan should the city be overrun. When Tywin Lannister sacked the city under the guise of riding to the aid of Aerys, the Mad King commanded Jaime to kill his father and then ordered his pyromancer to ignite the wildfire and burn King’s Landing to the ground. Jaime didn’t, killing the pyromancer and Aerys. Jaime has never told his side of the story publicly  and has suffered losing his reputation (but also getting the semi-badass nicknames Kingslayer and Oathbreaker), consoled by the fact that he knows he did the right thing. He knew no one would believe him anyways, and so Jaime took the role of villain so that the citizenry of King’s Landing and his father’s men would be saved from a fiery death. Coster-Waldau delivers this speech perfectly, and Jaime, crying as he holds his amputated arm above the bathwater, is at his most human: a tortured man bound by honor and duty whom is seen by the public as anything but. Ridiculed, hated, and exiled from the ranks of heroes, Jaime and Brienne, naked, dirty, and uncomfortable, end up seeing each other as not remarkably different. But seriously, watch this scene. And watch it again. Watch it a third time for the details. When Nikolaj Coster-Waldau walks across the stage to get his Emmy next year, you’ll know why.

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The increasingly poor decisions of Robb Stark

Poor, poor, poor Robb Stark. After his idiot uncle Edmure Tully chases Gregor Clegane out of the exact spot that Robb wanted him in, he took two Willem and Martyn Lannister hostage. Willem and Martyn, although Lannisters, are mere children—around Arya’s age—and were going to be used as bargaining chips for whatever. The two boys’ cell is broken into by Rickard Karstark, the heavily-bearded man whose son was strangled by Jaime Lannister when he was a Stark captive before Robb’s mother Catelyn sent him with Brienne to be exchanged for Sansa and Arya. Seeking some kind of vengeance for his son’s death at the hands of the Kingslayer, Karstark executes the two young Lannisters. Brought before Robb, Karstark expresses his views that the men have lost faith in the purpose of the war, compounded by Robb’s head-slappingly dumb decision to marry Talisa instead of Walder Frey’s daughter whom he was promised to in exchange for passage through Frey’s lands. Robb orders the rest of the murderers hanged, and sends Karstark to the dungeon. Despite the pleas of Edmure, Catelyn, and Talisa to hold Karstark hostage to force his men to keep fighting until the war is over, Robb holds to his idea of justice and orders Karstark executed. Acting and dressed up as his father Ned, whom we saw execute a deserter of the Night’s Watch in the first ten minutes of the pilot episode, Robb executes Karstark. The one thing that Robb seems to forget is that the same stubbornness he emulates after Ned is the same thing that got Ned killed. That’s called foreshadowing.

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Things continue to look particularly grim for Robb post-execution. Karstark’s men desert Robb’s army, cutting it’s numbers in half. Desperate for a win, Robb decides to march on the Lannister stronghold of Casterly Rock, knowing that Tywin’s troops are all in King’s Landing. Unfortunately, Robb still doesn’t think he has the manpower to pull it off, and comes to the conclusion that he needs Walder Frey’s armies to make it happen. But, oh yeah, he broke the contract between him and Frey when he married Talisa. What was that about foreshadowing?

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ACROSS THE NARROW SEA

Dragons!

Daenerys, on the road, gets all of the officers of the Unsullied army together and tells them to elect a leader, the former eunuch warriors now free and fighting for her by choice. They elect Grey Worm (who could be Obama’s son), who tells her in a really badass moment that he (and probably other Unsullied) will keep their slaves names, because those are the names they had when Dany freed them. Again, commanding loyalty is a huge part of who succeeds and who doesn’t in Westeros—just look at the aforementioned suckfest with Robb and Karstark. Seeing this huge vote of confidence is a welcome relief for Dany, whose lieutenants are in the middle of squabbling as well. Barristan Selmy and Jorah Mormont are disgraced men of rich histories. Selmy was the commander of the Kingsguard during the reign of Dany’s father, the mad king Aerys. He then served in the same capacity under Robert Baratheon, who saw Selmy as a traitor to the realm for doing his duty and protecting Aerys. After Robert’s death, Joffrey dismisses Selmy from the Kingsguard on Cersei’s advice to replace him with Jaime. Selmy, outraged, reevaluates his service to the Baratheon-Lannister monarchy and goes across the Narrow Sea to rejoin the Targaryen family under Dany’s leadership. Jorah, on the other hand, was the ruler of the Mormont ancestral home after his father Jeor left to join the Night’s Watch. Having married a girl from a wealthy family, Jorah spent a ton of money to keep her happy, leading to his financial demise. Desperate, he sold a bunch of convicts to slavers, and fled Westeros a disgraced man (not a lot of that has been revealed in the show, but still interesting to know). These two now argue over their positions in relation to Dany, with the more respected Barristan not wanting Jorah to be the face of the Targaryen return. Jorah, on the other hand, reminds him that they are all equals, and all of them choose to serve Dany. This whole scene calls into question where Barristan’s loyalties really lie, as he suspiciously appeared out of nowhere. Also, there are undertones that Jorah thinks Barristan is still a spy. I don’t really like that the show pits these two guys against each other—with Dany being so awesome and likeable, I just want all of her subjects to work together and make this Targaryen army as crazy awesome as it can be.

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AT KING’S LANDING

Littlefinger creeps me the hell out

Cersei still doesn’t like the Tyrells, especially Margaery. She wants them out. Unfortunately, her father Tywin won’t move against them until presented facts, as shown by his expectedly harsh rebuke of Cersei’s initial complaints. Tough love doesn’t even begin to describe it. Needing some help gathering intel, Cersei turns to her usual co-conspirator Littlefinger Baelish (whom she had previously enlisted to find Arya Stark), getting ready to leave the capital and marry Lady Arryn to prevent House Arryn from helping the northern rebels. He sends out the spy Olyvar, a young gay man who seduces Loras Tyrell and relays his findings that Margaery Tyrell plans to wed Sansa Stark to Loras. Going on Varys’s previously elaborated theory, Littlefinger wants Sansa securely on his side to lock up the heir to the seemingly inevitable power vacuum that will be caused if Robb dies. After Sansa refuses Littlefinger’s offer to escape with him when he goes to marry Arryn, he pulls the trigger and throws the Tyrell’s under the bus. Or, I guess, large group of horses. A prudent move.

 

Tyrion is awesome

Tyrion has lunch with the ever-fantastic Lady Olenna, who agrees to pay for half the royal wedding. The big development here is how impressed Tyrion is with Olenna—maybe planting the seeds for some future friendship.

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However, that friendship looks like it’s going to be a forbidden one. With Littlefinger’s new information, Tywin calls Cersei and Tyrion to a meeting where he tells them their fates. He plans to wed Loras to Cersei, solidifying the Lannister-Tyrell alliance, while simultaneously nipping the problem of Sansa Stark in the bud by wedding her to Tyrion. Tyrion’s lover Shae is Sansa’s handmaiden, so there’s the potential for some really awesome threesomes—but, more probably, it’s just going to be really awkward. Also, the last time Tyrion was wed by his family, it was to a girl who turned to be a prostitute Jaime had paid for (some say as a cruel joke, other say as a misguided gesture of brotherly love). So, his apprehension about the whole thing is understandable. Regardless, this huge reveal at the end of the episode is a big development, and I’m excited to see how it plays out. Maybe Olenna and Tyrion will have the chance to team up and prevent this after all.

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This is a really strong episode with a lot of great moments. I still think “And Now His Watch Is Ended” is more compelling and a little bit more complex, but that doesn’t mean that this episode is any less fantastic.

 

Rating: 4.75 naked Briennes out of 5

Line of the week: “By what right does the wolf judge the lion?” –Jaime Lannister

Fanboy gift of the week: George R.R. Martin creeping on Sansa (Sophia Turner)

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One thought on “Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 5: “Kissed by Fire” Recap

  1. Pingback: Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 2: “The Lion and the Rose” | Jentlemen's Weekly

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